If you haven’t picked up a copy of Midwest Living lately, it’s time. The September/October 2008 issue literally bursts with Autumn colors – rich brown and orange, with liberal helpings of warm baked casseroles, pumpkin bread, and all kinds of crisp apple dishes. We had the opportunity to meet the woman behind the recipes, Midwest Living’s Senior Food Editor, Diana McMillen, who came to help open the Silver Dollar City Culinary & Crafts Center.
McMillen literally tastes every recipe that goes into the pages of the magazine, and has done so for 20 years. She holds degrees in food nutrition and journalism and says, “This is always what I wanted to do.”
We talked to McMillen (pictured, right) as she prepped for the culinary classes, where she helped demonstrate recipes such as Pumpkin Dessert, Fall Brownies, Harvest Skillet, Succotash and Ginger Cookies. Below is a sampling of our discussion.
What kind of changes have you seen in 20 years of observing food?
It’s gone full circle. People are returning to local ingredients, and learning more about the source of their food. They are interested in the heritage and the tradition behind the food. People seem to find real meaning in knowing the way it has been served in the past, and the story of the person who passed the recipe on.
How do you help your readers source local foods?
We’re talking more about that now. The reality of actually preparing and eating a meal made with all local ingredients is, well, really difficult. For example, is chocolate a local ingredient? Our magazine is a source of recipes, and we know people come to us for that. What we give them always has Midwest roots of some sort, so when they come to us they already know whether the ingredients are close to home or not.
What type of recipes are most popular with your readers?
Quick and easy. But there’s a balance to that – for example, there is real interest in pies, and baking in general, which takes longer. That’s why the whole set up at Silver Dollar City is really wonderful. What makes it unique is that people are willing to spend a little time to learn, and enjoy the craftsmanship of it all, from the cooking to the copper backsplash to the blown glass light fixture. There is a feel of being old fashioned, but updated.